I quickly became addicted to Spotlight when I upgraded to Tiger back in 2005, but why, I wondered, did Apple have to ruin easy filename searches in the Tiger Find dialog, after just finally getting them working right in Panther?
Of course you can run filename searches in Tiger (and Leopard), but it involves configuring tedious pull-down menus, and I find that often a name search is the quickest way to hone in on a file I’m looking for without the “too much information” returns that Spotlight indexed searches yield.
Perceiving a need, Thomas Tempelmann has authored an excellent little freeware replacement for the pre-Tiger OS X Find utility called Find Any File. Unlike Spotlight, Find Any File doesn’t use an indexed database; it taps into the file system driver’s own fast search operations, letting you search for file properties like name, dates, size, etc., but not for file content, for which you can, of course, still use Spotlight.
Find Any File is thus not a Spotlight substitute or replacement. Rather it compliments it by providing a function that OS X doesn’t perform very well. It works quite similarly to the Classic Mac OS’s “Find File” (or Sherlock) utilities, which I frequently miss in OS X. It also consequently finds files that Spotlight doesn’t, such as those inside bundles and packages and inside folders that are usually excluded from Spotlight searches (eg: system files).
Some other things Find Any File can do:
- Hold down the Option key down while choosing Find, type in your administrator password, and Find Any File will restart with root permissions, and the ability to find any file on your Mac’s local volumes (something Spotlight won’t do)
- Display a new hierarchical view of found items which is toggled by pressing Command-2 or clicking on the icon at the top right of the results window.
I’ve found Find Any File even more useful than I thought I would, and I’ve been using it a lot since downloading it. The searches are reasonably swift, although perhaps not quite as fast as Spotlight, but I find the results tend to be more zeroed-in on what I’m actually looking for in many cases.
New enhancements in the latest Version 1.1 of Find Any File include the ability to search non-HFS volumes (although not as quickly), options to filter hidden items and package contents, more details of items displayed on mouseovers, and a new “Delete Immediately” menu command.
It seems almost churlish to complain about an excellent piece of freeware like this, but the range of search configuration options cold be a little broader. Tempelmann acknowledges this, but he says he had to stop adding features at some point.
The application’s user interface may look a bit old school to some, as it is inspired by the Classic Mac OS’ Find File application, but I remain a Classic OS fan so it’s perfectly all right by me.